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Final Oscar Predictions: Documentary Short – ‘ABCs of Book Banning’ Tackles Florida’s Assault on LGBTQ and Racial Stories, and It Just Might Win

Final Oscar Predictions: Documentary Short – ‘ABCs of Book Banning’ Tackles Florida’s Assault on LGBTQ and Racial Stories, and It Just Might Win

Variety Awards Circuit section is the home for all awards news and related content throughout the year, featuring the following: the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tony Awards ceremonies, curated by Variety senior awards editor Clayton Davis. The prediction pages reflect the current standings in the race and do not reflect personal preferences for any individual contender. As other formal (and informal) polls suggest, competitions are fluid and subject to change based on buzz and events. Predictions are updated every Thursday.

Visit the prediction pages for the respective ceremonies via the links below:

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2023 Oscars Predictions:
Best Documentary Short

NAI NAI & WAI PO, (aka NAI NAI AND WAI PO), Zhang Li Hua and Yi Yan Fuei, 2023. © Disney+ / Courtesy Everett Collection
NAI NAI & WAI PO, (aka NAI NAI AND WAI PO), Zhang Li Hua and Yi Yan Fuei, 2023. © Disney+ / Courtesy Everett Collection

Weekly Commentary (Updated March 5, 2024): In the documentary short category, the competition is notably fierce, featuring a lineup of powerful and thought-provoking contenders, and the best of the three shorts categories.

Leading the charge with a distinct homefield advantage, “The Last Repair Shop,” directed by Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers, has been an early frontrunner. This film, capturing the heart of an L.A.-based musical instrument repair shop, has won over many local voters. The timing of the LAUSD Education Foundation’s announcement, committing to a $15 million campaign in support of the shop highlighted in the documentary, further cements its status as a favorite.

However, the competition remains stiff with two other timely and resonant documentaries.

“The ABCs of Book Banning,” addressing the controversial mass banning of books on LGBTQ topics and racial issues in Florida, has struck a chord with the electorate. The film gained additional momentum from the news of co-producer and co-director Sheila Nevins’ departure from MTV Documentary Films at the end of March, potentially giving the 84-year-old documentary titan a memorable send-off.

A dark horse in the race “The Barber of Little Rock” by John Hoffman and Christine Turner. This nonfiction story shines a spotlight on an African American barber in Arkansas who established a nonprofit community bank to tackle the racial wealth gap. The film’s focus on community impact and empowerment has garnered widespread support, and could have enough love to get it through the ceremony. However, a theory remains that perhaps it’s vote-splitting with “Last Repair Shop.”

“Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó,” backed by Walt Disney Pictures, captivates audiences with its heartwarming portrayal of two grandmothers, who were hits at the Academy Nominees Luncheon. This film could very well be the little-movie-that-could, potentially staging an incredible upset with its uplifting narrative.

“Island in Between” from The New York Times Op-Docs, seems to be one of those movies that feels like “the nomination is the reward.” But with the shorts, you can never be certain.

Will Win: “The ABCs of Book Banning” (Sheila Nevins and Trish Adlesic)
Could Win: “The Last Repair Shop” (Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers)
Should Win: “The Last Repair Shop”
Should have been here: “Relighting Candles: The Tim Sullivan Story” (Zeberiah Newman, Michiel Thomas)

Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Oscars predictions in all categories.

The 96th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 10.


And the Nominees Are:


  1. The ABCs of Book Banning” (MTV Documentary Films/Paramount+)
    Sheila Nevins and Trish Adlesic

  2. The Last Repair Shop” (L.A. Times Studios/Searchlight Pictures) 
    Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers

  3. The Barber of Little Rock” (Story Syndicate)
    John Hoffman and Christine Turner

  4. Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó” (Walt Disney Pictures)
    Sean Wang and Sam Davis

  5. Island in Between” (The New York Times Op-Docs)
    S. Leo Chiang and Jean Tsien


All Eligible Titles (Alphabetized) **


  • “The ABCs of Book Banning”

  • “The Barber of Little Rock”

  • “Bear”

  • “Between Earth & Sky”

  • “Black Girls Play: The Story of Hand Games”

  • “Camp Courage”

  • “Deciding Vote”

  • “How We Get Free”

  • “If Dreams Were Lightning: Rural Healthcare Crisis”

  • “Island in Between”

  • “The Last Repair Shop”

  • “Last Song from Kabul”

  • “Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó”

  • “Oasis”

  • “Wings of Dust”

2022 category winner: “The Elephant Whisperers” (Netflix) — Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga

Oscars Predictions Categories

BEST PICTURE | DIRECTOR | BEST ACTOR | BEST ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE | PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | INTERNATIONAL FEATURE | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT | LIVE ACTION SHORT

About the Academy Awards

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. Since 1927, nominees and winners have been selected by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Seventeen branches are represented within the nearly 10,000-person membership. The branches are actors, associates, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, documentary, executives, film editors, makeup and hairstylists, marketing and public relations, members-at-large, members-at-large (artists’ representatives), music, producers, production design, short films and feature animation, sound, visual effects and writers.

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